Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - FEATURES - By Amy Dick­in­son Con­tact Amy Dick­in­son via email,

Dear Amy: I re­cently found my bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther through Face­book af­ter more than 20 years (I am 28) of not know­ing if he was alive.

Although I am happy that I found him, I am scared to let my fam­ily (my mom, step­dad, and sis­ters) know that I have rec­on­ciled with him and re­con­nected.

I have asked about my dad be­fore (I even had a pic­ture of him), and my step­dad felt be­trayed that I was even cu­ri­ous about him. I ripped up his pic­ture be­cause I felt so guilty that my step­dad was hurt.

I KNOW my step­fa­ther will ma­nip­u­late the sit­u­a­tion (that’s just how he is) and con my sis­ters and my mom into not speak­ing to me.

On the other hand, I do wish to cre­ate a re­la­tion­ship with my fa­ther and start where we left off (I have two beau­ti­ful daugh­ters I know he will love to meet), but I am so scared to do this be­cause I know that it will di­vide my fam­ily. What should I do? — Wor­ried Daugh­ter

Dear Daugh­ter: First, a word of cau­tion. You seem to have in­vested a lot of pos­i­tive hope in the idea of hav­ing a re­la­tion­ship with your fa­ther. You say you want to “pick up where you left off.” But, where has he been? Has he been search­ing for you? You should start by tak­ing this very slowly, and in care­ful stages.

You were 8 years old when you last saw your fa­ther. You don’t say what tran­spired be­fore he dis­ap­peared from your life, but it was wrong of your par­ents to deny your right to have a re­la­tion­ship with him — even if they thought they were pro­tect­ing you.

I agree that you should pur­sue this re­la­tion­ship pri­vately. If you de­velop a friend­ship with your fa­ther, you should no­tify your mother — again, pri­vately (she should help you to han­dle your step­dad).

You are an adult. You have the right to con­tact your fa­ther. But be­cause the stakes seem to be so high, you must keep your eyes open to the con­se­quences.

Dear Amy: I have been mar­ried for more than 30 years. Last year I learned that my hus­band was tex­ting his old col­lege girl­friend. He may have even vis­ited her while vis­it­ing our son at col­lege, over 10 hours away. Seven years ago, I found out ac­ci­dently that he was tex­ting this same old girl­friend, and I told him that if it hap­pened again, it was a deal breaker.

At that time, our chil­dren were still liv­ing at home so I de­cided to re­main in the mar­riage. Now we are empty nesters.

Coun­sel­ing is out of the ques­tion. We live in a small town and our pas­tor knows both sides of our fam­ily.

I am stuck and sad. I am only 55 and I have a lot of liv­ing to do, but maybe not with this man by my side...? Where do I go from here? How do I restart my life? — Betwixt

Dear Betwixt: First of all, if you want to pur­sue coun­sel­ing through your clergy, un­der­stand that, of course, your pas­tor knows both sides of your fam­ily! That is one ad­van­tage that clergy can bring to coun­sel­ing.

Many cou­ples come back from the brink, but you can’t yank your mar­riage back with­out a mu­tual com­mit­ment to work on it. Does your hus­band want to stay, or part?

If you de­cide to leave the mar­riage, you should start by pri­vately re­search­ing your le­gal stand­ing and re­view­ing your fi­nances. Fo­cus­ing on these prac­ti­cal mat­ters can help to clar­ify your in­ten­tions.

Start­ing over re­quires a num­ber of brave leaps. Sup­port­ive friends, fam­ily mem­bers, and hav­ing a larger sense of pur­pose will help you to re­build your life.

Dear Amy: “Im­pos­si­ble to Es­cape” was con­cerned by an in-law who ha­bit­u­ally butted into con­ver­sa­tions and then dom­i­nated them. This fam­ily needs a Des­ig­nated Dis­trac­tor. At large fam­ily gath­er­ings, one per­son is des­ig­nated to en­gage the in-law with un­di­vided at­ten­tion, keep­ing him from ru­in­ing the main con­ver­sa­tion. Fam­ily mem­bers would de­cide this in ad­vance and take turns. — It Works!

Dear It Works!: This is a great idea. Thank you!

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